Preds fall to Leafs in SO 2-1

Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Despite notching seven goals against the Ottawa Senators and sealing the victory on Tuesday, Nashville just couldn’t seem to find the powers at be to win last night against the now 4-8-4 Toronto Maple Leafs. Goals for either team weren’t scored until the third period, thus leading to overtime, then five rounds of shootout action. Filip Forsberg, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, James Neal, and Craig Smith would all have their one-on-one chance with James Reimer, but it would be Pekka Rinne who would fall first and allow Peter Holland to notch the game-winner.

If you can recall from last season – November 18th, 2014 to be exact – the Predators completely derailed the Maple Leafs 9-2 in Toronto, only adding fuel to fire that is the Maple Leafs organization as of late. Last night shows how differently a season can change things. Although the Maple Leafs are still trying to piece themselves back together, they still came out and gave the Predators a run for their money.

Apparently, per Lupul and even some of the Nashville players, the ice was pretty rough last night, a comment not usually made about Bridgestone’s rink. Could that have been the cause for Nashville’s horrendous passes, constant puck whiffs, and overall inability to skate? Perhaps that, combined with just “one of those nights”, is the answer to our questions. Both teams were pretty even on SOG during all third periods and OT, ending the night with 23 SOG for Toronto and 22 for Nashville.

Looking on the bright side, the Predators did gain a point and can move onward to tomorrow’s game against the Winnipeg Jets with a little positivity. However, if it really was an ice issue, let’s get that fixed asap.

Other Notes:

In Milwaukee:

Preds take Home Opener 2-1 over Canes

Source: Sanford Myers/Getty Images

Ah, it’s good to be back, isn’t it? The Predators opened the 2015-16 at home last night against the Carolina Hurricanes and picked up the first of many (knock on wood) wins of this young season. Despite the win, the Predators looked a little less “on fire” during the second and third periods, which allowed the Hurricanes to make a comeback in shots-on-goal and in score. Here are some highlights from last night’s opener:

First Period:

  • Just fifty-seven seconds into the match, Ryan Ellis took a hi-stick to the face from Jordan Staal, resulting in a powerplay opportunity for Nashville.

  • In a déjà vu moment from last season, Craig Smith opened the season with a powerplay goal to put Nashville up 2-0 at 2:23.

  • About twelve minutes later, rookie Viktor Arvidsson notched his first NHL-career goal at 17:05 to put Nashville up 2-0. The fact that Arvidsson could not contain his excitement afterwards makes me happy.

  • Nashville would dominate the first period with 14 SOG compared to Carolina’s five.

Second Period:

  • No goals, but the pace was more like molasses for Nashville as the air was let out of the tires a bit. Carolina put on the pressure, but the Predators were able to maintain the 2-0 lead.

Third Period:

  • Again, the Hurricanes picked up the pace where the Predators left off and added even more pressure.
  • Eric Staal was able to inch one past Pekka Rinne at 18:20 with the extra man on the attack.
  • The last minute and a half was intense, but Nashville managed to keep Carolina from tying the game.

Overall, the Predators looked good during their season opener, but the “cooling of the jets” during the second and third periods could be worrisome. The defense stood tall against the Hurricanes and held them back, but I don’t know if Nashville could hold back a stronger team. The Oilers will take advantage of this easily on Saturday if the Predators don’t address it. The penalty kill looked fabulous last night and the powerplay is good as well. Improvements could be had here and there, but overall, I was pleased.

The Predators are back at it tomorrow at 6PM as they welcome in the Edmonton Oilers. The first 10,000 fans wearing gold will get a golden foam helmet! Whoop!

Preds Release Opening Night Roster

opening night

Yesterday afternoon, the Predators released the finalized 23-man roster for the 2015-16 NHL season. Without further ado, here are your Nashville Predators:

FORWARDS

Smith

Forsberg

Arvidsson

Bourque

Fisher

Gaustad

Hodgson

Neal

Nystrom

Wilson

Ribeiro

watson

51(1)

DEFENSE

Bartley

Bitetto

Ekholm

Ellis

Weber

Josi

Jackman

Jones

GOALIES

Rinne

Hutton

 

So, are you surprised by who made  the roster? We certainly are happy to see that Austin Watson made the cut, as that kid has been working something hard in the AHL. The same can be said for Viktor Arvidsson, who is definitely ready for his light to shine this season.

The 2015-16 NHL season opens tonight with the Maple Leafs vs. the Canadiens, the Blackhawks vs. Rangers, the Flames vs. the Canucks, and the Kings vs. the Sharks. However, Nashville opens the season tomorrow at home against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Preds sign Calle Jarnkrok

Image Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Image Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

There’s a good chance the young 23-year-old Swede is smiling from ear to ear today as Calle Jarnkrok and the Predators organization come to terms on a one-year deal worth $735,000. Here’s a little excerpt from the official press release:

Jarnkrok, 23 (9/25/91), has amassed 27 points (9g-18a) in 86 career NHL contests since making his debut with the Predators on March 21, 2014 vs. Calgary. During his first full NHL season in 2014-15, the Gavle, Sweden native suited up for 74 regular-season games (7g-11a-18pts) and all six playoff games (2a), recording assists in each of his first two career Stanley Cup Playoff games. In his first two months upon being acquired from Detroit on March 5, 2014, Jarnkrok posted nine points (2g-7a) in his first 12 NHL games, including five points (1g-4a) in the first five contests of his NHL career, the second-longest point streak by a Predators player in the first games of their NHL career (Marek Zidlicky, six games, Oct. 9-23, 2003).

Perhaps I made I good choice in purchasing his practice jersey at the Used Equipment Sale after all.

…And then there were two (RFAs) left…

  • Colin Wilson – July 28th
  • Craig Smith – July 20th
  • Gabriel Bourque – 1 Year, $866,250 (Qualifying Offer)  – 7/2/2015
  • Anthony Bitetto – 1 Year, $665,000(NHL)/$60,000(AHL) – 7/13/2015
  • Calle Jarnkrok – 1 Year, $735,000
  • Taylor Beck – Traded to Toronto for Jamie Devane – 7/12/2015
  • Taylor Aronson – 1 Year, $605,000(NHL)/$65,000(AHL) – 7/16/2015
  • Magnus Hellberg – Traded to NY Rangers for 6th Rounder 2016 Draft – 7/1/2015

Yeah, we’re looking at you, Colin Wilson and Craig Smith.

NSH trades Beck to TOR for Devane

Taylor+Beck+Nashville+Predators+v+Washington+gnFiV4Klqlcl

Say “so long” to Taylor Beck as he is officially headed to the Maple Leafs in exchange for forward forward Jamie Devane. Here’s a little info from the organization:

Devane, 24 (2/20/91), has spent the majority of his three-season professional career at the American Hockey League level, posting 15 points (6g-9a) and amassing 253 penalty minutes in 118 games with the Toronto Marlies. The Mississauga, Ont., native also appeared in his first two NHL contests with the Maple Leafs during the 2013-14 season.

Source: Torontoobserver.ca

Okay, so don’t let the knowledge that he’s spent a good portion of his career in the minors bother you. 2014-15 was the first season where Taylor Beck spent the majority of his time with the Predators and not in Milwaukee. Though Beck experienced his best season last year, whether or not he’d have a roster spot for the upcoming season was definitely up for debate. The Predators extended a qualifying offer to Beck, along with seven other players (Bourque accepted his, Hellberg was traded to the Rangers), but Beck and his agent opted for an arbitration hearing instead. Set for July 24th, the Predators avoided facing a possible hearing by successfully dealing Beck to Toronto.

Whether he pans out for the NHL right away or not, Devane will be a good replacement for someone else within the Admirals organization who is ready to make the switch to the big times. Enter, Austin Watson or Miikka Salomaki. Who knows? Maybe Devane will impress the judges enough to spend a little more time in the big leagues. Either way, Toronto will enjoy having Taylor Beck in their repertoire, there’s no doubt about that.

Also, for those interested (which I bet you are), here are the arbitration dates for Colin Wilson and Craig Smith:

  • Colin Wilson: July 28th
  • Craig Smith: July 20th

Bourque accepts Preds’ Qualifying Offer

6e80cfe6-bdb6-4927-bf17-3c1a8e4cf7b5_ORIGINAL

You like Bourque? We like Bourque. Well, he likes Nashville too, it seems because he has accepted his qualifying offer extended to him by the Predators. What’s that offer? A one-year, $866,250 deal, to be exact.

Gabriel Bourque was 3-10-13 last season, a wee bit off from his 9-17-26 record from the 2013-14 season. But hey, everyone is entitled to a few off seasons, right?

Bourque is just the first of eight RFAs that the Predators extended qualifying offers to on Monday to accept. That list includes the likes of Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Calle Jarnkrok, Taylor Beck, Anthony Bitetto, and Taylor Aronson. Magnus Hellberg, the eighth RFA, was traded yesterday afternoon to the New York Rangers in return for a sixth-rounder in the 2016 Draft.

Qualifying Offers extended to 8 RFAs

PicMonkey Collage

Fear not, Preds fans! The Predators extended qualifying offers to eight Restricted Free Agents all before the 4PM deadline this afternoon. Those eight players? Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Gabriel Bourque, Anthony Bitetto, Calle Jarnkrok, Taylor Beck, Taylor Aronson, and Magnus Hellberg.

In a nutshell, by extending these qualifying offers, the Predators are still given the opportunity to continue negotiations with these particular players. This doesn’t stop these players from signing other contracts, but it does give Nashville the right to match or exceed these potential competitive offers. If the Predators do not choose to match or exceed an offer, they will be compensated for the player’s departure from the organization. If the Predators had not given these RFAs qualifying offers, these players would’ve become Unrestricted Free Agents on Wednesday, July 1st.

So, who didn’t receive qualifying offers? Well, that would be Zach Budish and Josh Shalla; two players that will hit the UFA market come July 1st.

The Morning After: Game 5 – Don’t Snub the Prince

filip

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

My brain is still at home sleeping and did not make the trip to work with me today. Why? Because the adrenaline from last night’s win to force a Game 6 still has me buzzing! …Well, for the most part – I am slowing entering zombie mode. Whether you were in the crowd or cheering from afar, last night’s game was anything but outstanding. The boost from the home crowd, the pressure on Darling, and the resilience of Pekka Rinne gave Nashville the 5-2 victory, providing the good guys a chance at another game.

  • Small Market Snubbed: Yesterday afternoon, the NHL announced who the PHWA had chosen as their nominees for the Calder Trophy, an award that essentially serves as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year. A name most notably absent? Filip Forsberg. Per Pete Jensen, “since 1997-98, only one NHL rookie has posted 25+ goals, 60+ points, +15 or better & 200+ shots on goal: Filip Forsberg”. If the award is going to go to a player that sort of makes a showing during the latter-half of the season, then the trophy needs to be known as the “Rookie of the Latter-half of the Season” award, not year.

  • Return of the Fish: Mike Fisher was seen participating in practice yesterday morning, but as to if he’d be in the game was questionable. He even said himself that he wasn’t sure:

    However, he was on the ice during pregame warm-ups and was a starter for the game. No doubt his return helped boost some morale around the locker room.

  • The Real Deal Steal: James Neal gave the Predators their first lead of the night just 47 seconds in the third, opening the flood gates for Wilson and Forsberg.
  • Hey, Mr. Wilson: What a post season it is for Colin Wilson, collecting his fifth of the series last night & setting a franchise record.

  • Don’t Snub the Prince: Filip Forsberg’s a classy kind and he knows just how to retaliate in the right way against the NHL’s Calder snub. Intentional or not, it was truly poetic justice as Forsberg sunk two goals on his former roommate (Darling) and sealed the game winner and Hat Trick on an empty net.

  • First Time for Everything: The Predators are notching a bunch of franchise records this post season, which is understandably awesome. As the old saying goes, “There’s a first time for everything”.

    Nashville squashed that little fact into the dirt (thankfully) and look to squander a few other “never have I evers” before this series is over, too. The Preds are 1-4 in Game Sixes and have never been to a Game 7. As I said, there’s a first time for everything and now’s that time.

  • Three’s a Crowd: Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg, and Craig Smith are all tied for the team’s lead in points (5) during this post season.
  • All Business: Per Kris Martel of Fox Sports, the locker room after the game was all but celebratory.

    Though they deserve to wear the smiles on their faces, it’s still a job out there and their butts are on the chopping block. There’s no time to rest and the boys know it.

Going back to Chicago is going to be tough tomorrow; there’s no easy way to put it. The odds are stacked against the Predators, but they aren’t called the Pesky Preds for nothing, right? Backs against the wall style hockey. If Nashville can pull out the win tomorrow night, I have no doubt in my mind that they can conquer Game 7 at home. They just have to get there. Tomorrow’s game with not only be a physical challenge, but one of mental strength, too. They broke Darling last night and they can sure as all get out do it again. Get through tomorrow night; get through the series.
A quote from Coach Laviolette: “Our back is still up against the wall, and we are still a team who needs to realize where we are at and our place in life right now. If we win, we can come back and play Game Seven, and if we don’t, then we start our summer. I don’t think our guys are ready to go home.”

Other Thoughts:

Puck drops for Game 6 at 7PM.
It’s far from over, folks.
roman-josi-james-neal-nhl-tampa-bay-lightning-nashville-predators-850x560

 

 

Preds help Hawks Count; Take Game 2 6-2

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Well, if that wasn’t a good way to show that Nashville has what it takes to make it beyond the first round then I can’t tell you what was. Similar to Wednesday’s game, there were quite a few circumstances that certainly went against the Predators. However, instead of allowing those instances to bog them down, Nashville persevered and then some to take victory of Game 2 6-2. Here are the main highlights you should take away from last night’s game:

  • Definition of Top Shelf Cheddar? That’d be Colin Wilson, who did just that to give the Predators the lead early in the first period. That snipe was Wilson’s third of the playoffs – he might just be the hero of the playoffs.
  • Patrick Sharp would put Chicago on the board, but Roman Josi would make sure Nashville ended the period in the lead with just three seconds left in the first.
  • The penalty kill was overtly prepared for the possibility of spending some time in the box, due in part to Wednesday’s shenanigans. Gaustad was called for a four-minute high-sticking during the second period, putting the Predators in an all too familiar setting. However, the PK only allowed one shot-on-goal during that four minute spat, boosting not only the crowd but the team as well.
  • Patrick Kane’s goal was greatly celebrated, one could say, as he had five other buddies on the ice to do so with! A huge, monstrous missed too-many-men call lead to Kane’s first goal of the playoffs – one that happened to tie the game. To add insult to injury, the officials would soon wave off a perfectly clean goal from Calle Jarnkrok.

  • Injuries were abound last night, with Taylor Beck traveling back to the locker room after a Seabrook shot, and Shea Weber leaving for the remainder of the game with a lower-body injury. Weber will not be making the trip with the team to Chicago, definitely confirming he will be out at least two game. Mike Fisher, on the other hand, will be making the trip. Here’s a .gif of where Weber’s injury occurred:

  • Craig Smith notched his first of two goals last night in the second, helping to break that awful second period slump and gave Nashville a 3-2 lead going into the third.
  • Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 4-2 lead in the third, becoming the youngest player in Preds franchise history to score a post-season goal.
  • And, quickly after Forsberg, Craig Smith wanted another taste and notched his second goal of the night on Corey Crawford. Ah, and Pekka Rinne picked up the assist on his goal, too.
  • Mike Santorelli would get the deciding goal for his first in the playoffs, making the final score 6-2 in favor of Nashville.
  • Vince Vaughn was in town to watch his beloved Blackhawks along with NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman. The Predators should be beaming to show off such a great game to someone who doesn’t care much for small markets.

Other Thoughts:

That, ladies and gentlemen, was a game for the ages. The Predators went in knowing that things would possibly go against them – as it always has. Instead of taking the beating, Nashville stood firm and expressed the type of discipline they have been lacking for a while. Maybe it was the loss of Weber; maybe it was the excellent PK on that double-minor; whatever the case, there was a fire lit under the Predators that needs to stay lit for tomorrow’s game in Chicago and beyond.

Game 3 in Chicago starts at 2PM — A little bit earlier than the two here at home, I’d say. Like I said, that fire from last night needs to be there tomorrow. Chicago will have the crowd and home ice advantage, which could break them mentally. No need for mentality breaks.

Preds shutout Sabres 3-0

Source: John Russell/NHLI

Source: John Russell/NHLI

Call this just as much a morale victory as it was a shutout because the Predators needed a win like this desperately. Nashville, who has been in a deep, inescapable rut, last won a home game back on February 24th against the Colorado Avalanche. Actually, that was the last game the Predators played well before completely dismantling. Although the Sabres are 20-44-7 (before the game), that did give many fans much encouragement as the Predators continue digging out (or deeper) of their rut.

PRE-GAME NOTES:

  • Viktor Arvidsson was recalled by the Predators under emergency conditions to replace Colin Wilson, who is now day-to-day with a lower-body injury. This would be Arvidsson’s NHL debut.

SCRATCHES:

  • Anton Volchenkov, Colin Wilson, James Neal, Eric Nystrom, Victor Bartley

FIRST PERIOD:

  • The Predators gave Matt Hackett, the Sabres goaltender, a run for his money with seventeen shots-on-goal. However, for a net-minder who has only played in a handful of NHL games, he played rather well. The Sabres were only able to notch six shots-on-goal during this period.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • The lamp would finally be lit at 14:52, just four seconds into Nashville’s powerplay, by Taylor Beck, his 7th goal of the season. Shea Weber (30) and Matt Cullen (16) would tally an assist.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Craig Smith would put Nashville up 2-0 at 5:49 for his 23rd goal of the season. Ryan Ellis (16) and Matt Cullen (17) would notch the assists on Smith’s goal.
  • Mike Fisher would collect the game winner at 15:01, his 17th of the season. Viktor Stalberg (6) and Ryan Ellis (17) would tally the assists.

POST GAME NOTES:

  • Paul Gaustad did what he does best by winning all 13 face-offs in last night’s game.
  • Craig Smith was fined $5,000 by the league due to his high stick on Jerry D’Amigo; a penalty in which he served a double-minor.

  • The Predators are now just one point behind St. Louis from retaking the Central Division, whilst Chicago sits an uncomfortable four points behind Nashville.

Again, this could be chalked up as a morale victory more than anything for Nashville. I, for one, am hoping this win will boost the team out of their rut and onward into playoff contention. Ah, but the next opponents isn’t so easy… Montreal is on pass to be one of the first teams to surpass 100 points this season (the other team being Anaheim), a feat we once though Nashville would do. The Canadiens not only lead the Atlantic Division, they also dominate the Eastern Conference at 46-20-7. With Carey Price in net, who has now surpassed Pekka Rinne for wins at 40 (Rinne – 38), this will not be a walk in the park. But I bet you already knew that.